Archaeology and Tourism

About Eritrea - History & Culture

The archaeological resources of Eritrea can play a vital role in attaining significant cultural and economic value. The country owns several archaeological sites that can be easily turned to tourist destinations. Hence, following proper management plans, utilization of the archaeological sites as tourism destinations is a timely subject. Because, nowadays, archaeo-tourism activities are potentially considered as exceptional gears in elevating nation’s economy.

Archaeology-based tourism economy is considered as most celebrated means of foreign currency generator, via tourist expenses. The economic benefits are in the form of direct income, that are, site admission fees, hotel, restaurant, and tour agency income. These kinds of tourism benefits are advantageous in boosting country’s economic income. Although heritage protection and preservation are a costly affair, it can in the long run produce economic and social benefits. Beneficiaries of the archaeological tourism can be classified in to the general public and specifically the local people near the archaeological sites.

The prime beneficiaries of the archaeo-tourism are the people who live near the archaeological heritages, who may get more technological and economic advantages from the facilities, which are prepared for tourists. The basic advantages could be access to modern transportation facilities, creating job opportunities and elevating employment rate and other social linkages. Nevertheless, with regard to our archaeological resources there need to develop heritage management, interpretation, and perhaps story keeping and responsibility in order to exploit them in a scientific manner.

Archaeological resources are not necessarily compatible with all types of tourism. They are somehow unique in their physical parameter for they are sensitive to external damage and decay. Heritage management is not compatible with development related construction activities, which may contribute to the enhancement of tourism. The historical and cultural value of a site are a priority while using them as economic engines. After all, archaeological and historical sites are sources of pride and identity for the people who own them. For example, if we consider the domestic heritage tourism, it is more involved with questions of education and identity.

Our nation is endowed with a variety of archaeological remains. Almost a footstep on the country’s sub-surface is endowed with remains of archaeological residues. Most of the modern cities and villages of our country (example, Asmara) were built over ancient ruins of civilizations, which could be great destinations than any other tourism sectors.

Our cultural resources are the symbol of our identity and heritage. Besides, if properly managed, can generate immense profit in tourism. Tourism is always based upon the possessions of a country’s’ resources hence; cultural and natural resources are equally considered as nation’s central economic assets.

Cultural heritage resources are often exposed to several damages (illicit traffic, vandalism, looting… etc.) happening both by foreign and domestic tourists. Therefore, tourism should guarantee the safeguarding and management of heritage resources. Tourism has to participate in safeguarding heritage above and beyond its financial profit. Our heritages should be nursed as a finite resource, which can never be replaced if once destroyed. In order to become the beneficiaries of our resources the principles heritage management should not be contradicted with any other economic profits.

Tourism policy of Eritrea is favorable resulting in an increasing tourist activity. However, still very little actions are achieved concerning management of tourist destinations (mainly archaeological sites). Hence, with the growing of tourism the challenge of management is increasing as well. Therefore, responsible government bodies shall exclusively engage in promoting and training site guards and interpreters a n d supervises. In a consultative capacity museums involvement as centers of tourist destinations should be maintained, that visitor satisfaction is high, and that financial management meets principle of responsibility.

Tourism is the largest global industry today and our heritage resources can contribute significant role on nation’s development processes. Therefore, with the development of tourism and flow of tourists to our country and with the approaching of new master plans of our cities, our conservational laws should be stronger to protect our heritage resources. To fix the above paradox, responsible government bodies should develop a specific heritage protection laws and plans. The activities can be started by producing heritage managers, also educating private tour guides. The above-mentioned private tour guides should always work in association with the concerned institutions (in our case, the Commission of Culture and Sports and Ministry of Tourism). To avoid a clash between development and heritage conservation, it is significant for heritage managers to work together with tourism planners in development programs of scientific investigation, in order to harmonize economic development. Hence, implementation of both cultural and natural heritage laws is fundamental.

Today, cultural tourism is of the five key tourism markets segments in the world and there is an increasing challenge in terms of managing visitor flows (to archaeological sites). What is clear is that tourism is growing and an increasing impact on cultural heritage is increasing as well. This time, Eritrea is becoming a favorable ground to foreign intellectuals, with immense and hopeful flow of tourists. Hence, our institutions need to develop a strategy that harmonizes heritage and tourism for a better economic profit and preservation of heritage. Parallel to these and for a better and sustainable economic profit of cultural heritage, a continuous dissemination activity has to be made through different means of communications.